Monday, April 16, 2018

Governor appoints Gowan replacement.

Governor Phil Bryant issued the following statement.

Gov. Phil Bryant announced today that he has appointed Joseph Anthony Sclafani 7th Judicial Circuit Court District Judge, Post 4.

He will replace Judge William A. Gowan, Jr., who retired effective March 31. Sclafani’s appointment will be effective April 23 and will expire on Jan. 1, 2019. The office will appear on the ballot in November. The 7th Judicial Circuit Court District encompasses Hinds County.

Sclafani, a resident of Clinton, has been in private practice with Brunini, Grantham, Grower, and Hewes, PLLC, since 2003. His areas of practice include appellate, commercial litigation, product liability and mass tort, and premises liability.

“I thank Judge Gowan for his service to the people of the Seventh District and wish him well in retirement,” Gov. Bryant said. “Joseph’s diverse experience in private practice qualifies him to serve on the bench. I am pleased he has accepted this appointment.”

Sclafani practiced law with the Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich, and Rosati law firm in Palo Alto, Calif., from 2000 to 2003 dealing with securities and patent litigation prior to his work in Mississippi.

“I am grateful to Governor Bryant for providing the opportunity to serve my fellow citizens of Hinds County as circuit judge,” Sclafani said. “I will work diligently to apply the law without passion or prejudice and to ensure that the Court remains the great equalizers in our democracy where every person stands equal.”

Prior to practicing law in California, he was a law clerk for Judge E. Grady Jolly of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

Sclafani is a 1999 graduate of the Mississippi College School of Law where he finished first in his graduating class. Before heading to law school he obtained a Bachelor of Science in History from Mississippi College where he was a recipient of the Perry Academic Medal.


Anonymous said...

Joseph Sclafani is an excellent appointment.

Anonymous said...

Joseph Sclafani is yet another fine example of the quality of judicial appointments made by Governor Bryant. The Governor is getting good advice on judicial appointees. Joseph will serve the people of Hinds County exceedingly well. Very proud of this appointment and very happy for Joseph. So well deserved.

Anonymous said...

He has never tried a case. this is going to be a disaster.

Anonymous said...

Great. Another judge that needs google to find the courthouse.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering about that, 4:58. Easier to see as a COA appointment?

Anonymous said...

Never tried a case? Makes no difference in Mississippi, he is eligible to sit on ANY court at ANY level. Only matters that he has been part of the MSGOP machine at some point, maybe as a "fixer". I wonder if he can "wrangle" a lose cow, like Cindy-Hyde can, in Mississippi that would qualify one to serve as a US Senator folks.

Anonymous said...

How can the first two posters claim this is an 'excellent' and 'quality' appointment in light of the third post which reveals he has never tried a case?

What am I missing? Are these just more posts by Phil's daughter?

Anonymous said...

4:57 pm, tell that to the folks in DeSoto County.

Anonymous said...

@ 6:24pm Uh, Hey Gump - it's an appointment to District 7 (Hinds) sooooooooo, that's who he will serve. Are you stupid or something? It's a great pick simply because he's not affiliated with the losers on the Oxford plantation who are currently dealing with a TB outbreak, several rapists/kidnappers and a plantation family of fans who's kid is in jail without bond for making terroristic threats in Desoto County for "fun". That school needs an enema.

Anonymous said...

As if the Hinds County Judicial System doesn't have enough problems already. Probably needed this appointment for a resume or something. Phil just up sizing the hole in the Hinds County Ship that is already sinking.

Anonymous said...

His first case may be a showdown between the governor and the county over these bridge closures. Hinds clearly got picked on and I hear an investigation is coming.

Anonymous said...

6:00 -- Being an excellent lawyer and not trying cases aren't at all mutually exclusive. There are tons of lawyers in specialty areas who are excellent in their field, but have tried few if any cases. There are even star litigators who only handle appeals.

The question really is, does being a trial judge require the same skill set as being a trial lawyer? I.e., would you rather have somebody who's book smart and has a strong understanding of the law (which Joe does) or somebody who can really read a jury and has a bunch of trials under their belt (which Joe doesn't)?

You'd prefer both, of course. But if you have to pick (and given what we pay judges, you often do) trial procedure isn't brain surgery, and a judge's job isn't to persuade the jury.

So if you get a smart, conscientious person like Joe, you should be fine.

Anonymous said...

Strong pick. Bryant got this one right.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that in a short time 2/4 Hinds County Circuit Court judges could be former Brunini partners

Anonymous said...

I am betting/hoping yes. Court takes giant steps forward, although Gowan will be harder to replace than Weill.

Anonymous said...

Excellent choice. Smart, knowledgeable, he will adapt to the bench well.

Anonymous said...

Whether he’s tried any cases or not, he has the ability to improve the Hinds County bench. Yes, that’s arguably a low bar.

He’s intelligent, diligent and not on the take. Can he possibly do any worse than some of the criminal decisions we’ve seen out of that circuit bench in recent years? Perhaps he can get some other concerned folks in the county interested.

And the better pick is. . . Who, exactly?

Anonymous said...

He has tried several cases in state and federal court. He has handled many cases in the Supreme Court and Fifth Circuit. He is highly qualified to hold any judicial post. Great appointment. We are lucky he is willing to serve

Anonymous said...

I recall when Swan Yerger was appointed and he was not well versed in criminal law but it was different because he had able prosecutors to teach him the ropes.

Anonymous said...

It is certainly beneficial for a circuit judge to have been a trial lawyer at some point in their careers. Bill Gowan had served so many roles as a lawyer over the course of his career, including as a trial lawyer, and that helped him be a great judge.

I don't anything about this guy they appointed but my question is can he win the post anyway? I highly doubt it. Lets not forget the last Republican appointment to that seat, Malcolm Harrison, who got beat by Bill Gowan.

Part of that district/seat is voted on by folks in the 2nd Judicial District (Bolton, Utica, Raymond, etc.), I wonder how a Brunini partner will fair out there with those folks.

Anonymous said...

I will be voting for him, great choice!

Anonymous said...

None of the people currently signed up were boasting a ton of trial experience. Trial experience does matter for trial judges. Arguing trial experience doesn’t matter is foolish. But, given the options Gov chose best.

Anonymous said...

10:04, name 3 cases where he was first chair at trial. That will hush the naysayers. Go ahead.

Anonymous said...

Apparently, many of those commenting are unaware of what a clerk for a sitting judge does. The duties are not secretarial.
Nor do you seem to understand that not being the litigator of record ( or "first chair" as 7:17am put it) in a trial doesn't mean the lawyer has no experience and participation in cases that are litigated. Indeed, he may likely have been in the courtroom.
Being "first chair" 7:17 am ,is more about how well someone verbally communicates than their legal expertise.
A judge doesn't need to be persuasive to anyone else in the court room, it's his courtroom. He has the gavel. He just needs to know when to bang it.

Anonymous said...

Can he beat bill skinner in an election?

Anonymous said...

Outstanding appointment. Smart, diligent and fair. Joe will apply the law and rules evenhandedly. He also cares about doing the right thing. I've known Joe for 15 years. He's a good litigator and has a firm command of the rules of court. Whoever is commenting that he has no trial experience is just flat wrong.

Anonymous said...

Sclafani isn't qualified but Matt Allen somehow is? Gimme a freaking break.

Anonymous said...

@ 7:55 The answer is no. Skinner good or bad as a judge, is very good at elections.

Anonymous said...

No lawyer has trial experience anymore. There aren't that many trials.

All Hail King Phil.. said...

Since the only thing in this world Phil covets is getting an appointment from Trump, he really seems to get off on making them himself.

He fancies being up high in the viewing area, himself in a toga, sucking on a dripping turkey leg, waving to the crowd while anointing a victorious Christian in the contest arena below. The crowd cheers. A plate of grapes is brought to Phil's side. He motions for a trophy to be brought and quickly dispatches it down to the selected victor.

And the bourgeoisie shower Phil with a lengthy golf-clap, knowing that for weeks to come, Phil will celebrate his choice and his abilities by posting notices of his expertise on the stadium walls for all to see.

"Last week I was pleased to name Titus as my selection and am today noticing the outpouring of affection I have received due to my recognition of Titus and of Lucretia, the week before. For it is I who have trained Titus and brought him to his current plateau. And tomorrow I will have the honor of naming my choice for stadium bugler, a position I created to herald my own entrance into the arena."

Anonymous said...

I have known Joseph for at least 15 years. He most certainly has tried cases and has handled probably thousands of hearings. He is smart, diligent, and honest. I live in the 2nd Judicial District and I can assure you that I will vote for him. Will campaign for him, too.

Anonymous said...

Gowan may have participated in many trials but let's face it, he never actually prepared a case for trial. One of the laziest lawyers on the planet.

Anonymous said...


"A judge doesn't need to be persuasive to anyone else in the court room, it's his courtroom. He has the gavel. He just needs to know when to bang it."

There are judges who actually think it's "their" courtroom, and you can tell from the moment they open their self-serving, egotistical mouth.

The power is held by the people, and they elect the person to hold the seat. They definitely don't elect judges to own the seat or the courtroom or the bailiffs or the docket or the court reporters. Listen to judges when they speak: "This is my court reporter, Ms. ______"

The only thing a judge owns is his/her record while on the bench. And they have to own it when they run for re-election, or in this guy's case - election.

Anonymous said...

8:29 what in the hell do you want Phil to do? When a vacancy occurs, he - by statute - has to fill it with an appointment. Its part of his job; part of his constitutional and/or statutory duty. If he failed to make the appointment, I am sure that you would be on here cussing at the Gov for not doing his job.

He has actually made many appointments you probably have paid no attention to with them being in other areas of the state so they haven't gotten your attention. And in all of them I am sure he touted their experience, wonderful family, personal lifestyle, and everything else about them. Why shouldn't he? Would you rather he appoint people that he says were sorry characters and had no reason to be given the position?

Anonymous said...

Feel could have appointed the judge already chosen by the people, Judge Skinner.

Anonymous said...

3:56 - No to your suggestions. The problem is that Bryant always has to make it about himself, the 'I' factor. He can't escape it. It's all about Feel. And very little about the appointee. Please pay attention. And it has nothing to do with which part of the state these appointments are in. It's the 'Turkey-Leg and Toga' factor.

Anonymous said...

Good Lord...most of you are just trying to support your political party or are having a lawyer " contest" to soothe your egos or else fear you can't drive up costs to your clients with a good judge.

Being a good judge isn't about being a trial lawyer or not . It isn't about financial success as an attorney. It's about having a fine legal mind and being able to write or rule with legal clarity and being honorably objective.

Despite political muddying of the last decades, being a trial lawyer has tried (litigated) a case in a court of law before a judge. Politicians wanted the public to confuse being a trial lawyer with being a tort lawyer or a criminal defense lawyer to smear all trial lawyers so none of them could point out to the public , the dangers of their political scheming. They wanted to kill the messengers of truth.

The Mississippi membership in The American College of Trial Lawyers( which is the gold standard of excellence) is very small and there aren't enough to fill judicial positions for the entire state even if they were inclined to be a judge. Some of the Mississippi members aren't primarily litigators and that fact pretty much kills the notion of time spent in litigation being key. Litigation just isn't fun for everyone. It is long hours and high adrenaline and thus draining physically and mentally.

Some members of the American College of Trial Lawyers are specialists in certain areas of law. They have set precedence. They have won judicial decisions based on legal skills, not political connections or financial profit. Their legal work made the profession better. And, the briefs they filed are well written and have clarity. Some members have distinguished themselves as judges . Supreme Court Judges are often members.

But, even the American Colleges in all areas of the legal profession get a " ringer"...someone whose desire for power, money or fame will trump his ethics.

The truth is a good lawyer wants a judge who actually knows what the applicable law and he needs to be able to clearly state the law in any opinions he renders. If he can't make legal decisions with clarity, the judge will just cost us money when the case is overturned.

A bad lawyer will want a judge who will give him more business by helping him bill more hours. He will hope the judge's legal ineptness will let him get by with dragging out cases with bogus delays and fillings . He will want a judge who you think will favor you rather than be objective.

A good lawyer understands that justice and the rule of law is key to a free civilized society. He is a Patriot who knows their are issues bigger than his self-interest.

I hope Bryant has picked an honorable man as well as someone with a fine legal mind.

Anonymous said...

9:52 you are spot on
4:58 it is far better to have an intelligent lawyer with no experience on the bench than a complete idiot with experience. Sclafani is reputed to be super smart and as such will have no problem dealing with the technical aspects of the job. It is legal expertise that makes a respected Judge, not promoting a political agenda. We are lucky to get someone with Sclafani's mind on the Circuit bench, especially having endured eight years of Weill misinterpreting law and getting reversed often. Not that Sclafani's is taking on Weill's court, the point being that we need intelligent and articulate judges in our courts and Sclafani's fits that bill.

Anonymous said...

Ben Allen's son wants to be a judge? Oh, Please! That about as nonsensical as Ben Allen becoming a community organizer or industrial developer.

Anonymous said...

Joe loves Donald Trump......I mean...he worships the guy.

Let that sink in in his district......

Forecast calls for pain next election

Anonymous said...

Faye Peterson qualified to run for the seat as well. She will easily beat Sclafani in that district. Not to mention that Faye is actually way more qualified to be judge than Phil's pick, that district is very African-American and I don't see how a white guy picked by a Republican Guv is going to garner a ton of votes out there. He will do well in Clinton but thats about it.

Bill Gowan, Bobby DeLaughter & Breland Hilburn all held that seat. They actually had credentials with the African-American community in the 2nd District and were *old school Hinds County,* for lack of a better term. This guy doesn't and isn't.

As a poster noted above, I highly doubt being on the Trump train is going to assist this guy much in the 2nd District. I wouldn't be saying #maga out in Bolton, Edwards or Utica if I were him.

Jacksun said...

"Joe loves Donald Trump......I mean...he worships the guy."

If that is true, and he reveals it, he could could be in for a very rocky ride here in Hinds County from every quarter, Republican and Democrat, black and white. Mr. Trump is not a popular guy in any quarter around here. In that case, I suggest he keep his politics to himself.

Anonymous said...

I work with the courts in Hinds County, and I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt. If he's not trying to be judge/jury/dictator, he should be okay. Some judges just refuse to believe they are wrong even when the Miss. Supreme Court reverses them over and over and over. Just because you are a good person doesn't mean that you will be a good judge.

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